NHL Odds & Pick for Maple Leafs vs. Oilers: Lock Edmonton at This Number (March 3)
Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Connor McDavid.
- Having won twice without their star goalscorer and goaltender, the Maple Leafs go for three straight on Wednesday.
- It's been no Auston Matthews or Frederik Andersen, no problem, although Edmonton appears poised for a breakthrough.
- Matt Russell breaks down what it'd take for him to back the Oilers.
Maple Leafs vs. Oilers Odds
|Maple Leafs Odds||-108|
|Time||Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday and via DraftKings.|
I saw a promo last weekend for the reboot of the television show Punky Brewster, which was a sitcom in the early-90’s that was annoying to me even as a child.
I’m not sure what the target market was back then for that show, and I certainly don’t know what it is now since the adult version of the character was insufferable 30 years ago.
It was at that moment of seeing this commercial that I realized that if that show can be greenlit in Hollywood, then three readers and I could probably get in a room and create a show that would get put to air somewhere, without much difficulty. I’m not sure I’ve watched a half-hour sitcom since “How I Met Your Mother” in its prime.
One of the many running jokes throughout the show was the male lead character, Ted Mosby, thinking he could pull off wearing red cowboy boots. Irrationally and improbably, he would enter a room with them on and simply say, “Pulling them off.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently walking around in red cowboy boots confidently saying, “Pulling this off.”
Toronto Maple Leafs
We’ve detailed at length this season how the Leafs’ even-strength metrics not adding up to the success they’ve had and the points they’ve accumulated. However, at least they were doing it with an all-world offensive performance from Auston Matthews and a consistently good effort in goal from Frederik Andersen.
The Leafs must have not gotten the memo that their trip to Alberta doesn’t feature a trip to Calgary, a city known for its world-class rodeo event, because the Leafs are strutting around Edmonton this week in their red cowboy boots.
Toronto has pulled off back-to-back shutout victories over the Oilers without the services of Matthews and Andersen. Backup goalie Jack Campbell returned just in time for the first shutout and then almost immediately re-injured himself, only to have their “break in case of emergency” goalie, Michael Hutchinson, get the second one.
Offensively, the Leafs have been doing Leafs things. That is to say, scoring goals without creating many High-Danger Chances (HDC) at even-strength. Despite six such chances in the first matchup, and just five in the second, the Leafs scored early in both games to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Oilers lost on Saturday because they couldn’t convert any of their 14 HDC at even-strength and weren’t able to draw any penalties. Hockey’s anti-Leafs conspiracy theorists would interject at this point and mention that the best way to beat Connor McDavid and the Oilers’ lethal power play is to have the referees never call any penalties. An especially adept strategy with the Leafs’ power-play assassin (Matthews) sitting out.
Ideally, the Oilers want to play a run-and-gun type of game with the Leafs, trading opportunities. It’s even better if Edmonton is the only one getting the chances.
Where that falls apart is if the Oilers can’t play more than half a period without a seemingly innocuous shot going in past their goaltenders. Both Mike Smith and Mika Koskinen gave up goals in the first 15 minutes of play that they’d like to have back. In the case of Koskinen, his three goals on 10 shots (and the first two of the game) were enough to get him the early hook. Koskinen’s ineffectiveness means that the Oilers have to rely on the 38-year-old Smith, which was not the plan coming into the season.
The big surprise from the first two games of this three-game set is that we haven’t heard much more than a peep from McDavid. The Oilers’ star is known for taking opportunities to assert his excellence in situations like this, when the hockey world is watching. After just one shot on Saturday, he had six on Monday so he’s at least getting opportunities.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Strangely, despite a combined 7-0 deficit over two games, the Oilers rating in my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model as heard on “THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast,” actually improved. They’re now over 2% above average at even-strength, while the Leafs maintain a rating of 4% above average. This translates to a 51% win probability at Rogers Place for the Oilers.
The closing prices for the Oilers have slowly dropped, from ending up as high as -130 after Matthews was announced as out on Saturday to -110 on Monday. Given the results of those games, I think we can expect a better number than that for the Oilers on Wednesday.
While there isn’t going to be a ton of value relative to my model, I expect the Oilers to finally break through offensively in this one and salvage a pair of points. They’re currently -108 on DraftKings, but look for that to go down.
If not, the Leafs will have to pack those red cowboy boots for all their road trips in the future.
Pick: Oilers +100 or better
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